MW Exams 2023
In September 2022, I decided to take up the baton once more and re-take Stage Two of the Master of Wine, sitting exams from Tuesday 6th - Friday 9th June 2023. If you aren’t yet well versed with the programme, or my former experiences on the MW course, here are links to previous blogs to fill in the gaps:
When these gruelling exams have already been sat once, the overall feeling re-sitting is a mixture of assurance, determination and apprehension. Assurance because the four day exam period is a known quantity. Determination because a lot of hard work has gone into preparations (again). Apprehension because it might not be enough (again). What a rollercoaster.
It is certainly a unique exam to be a part of, which very few people get to experience. Unless, of course, you happened to be checking into a room at the Royal National hotel in London at around 09:50 on Thursday 8th June. The entrance lobby was littered with one hundred or so socially distanced, silent, zombie-like MW students, waiting for sparkling wines to be poured for Paper Three. For around 20 minutes, we all waited patiently, whilst bewildered guests navigated through nervous energy, ringing hands and pacing feet. One elderly couple stopped in amongst the sea of sweating students for a few minutes to read the IMW banner information: “Look Derek, the Institute of Masters of Wine. That sounds good. We’ll have to look that up later.” Full marks to the IMW marketing team. A couple more recruits for the 2023 programme perhaps.
So, how did it go? I can confidently say that I wrote something in every box for practical (thank you Annette Scarfe MW for the reminder) and wrote the total number of essays required for theory. I got some wines right and I got some wines wrong. Maybe one day, I will be brave enough to lay bare what I thought all the wines were, but it is not something I wish to relive right now. Should my efforts not be enough to pass either part of the exam, I will have to think long and hard as to how much more time and money I can spend taking this qualification. It is certainly a privilege to be part of such a revered and well-regarded educational scheme. But the qualification takes its toll on important parts of life. Relationships, family, pets, hobbies, mental health, travel, experiences, finances. The list goes on.
I do know that in sitting these exams, I have pushed myself to learn and understand all aspects of the wine industry, resulting in an equal measure of inspiration and frustration. There are some great people doing wonderful things in wine and yet there is still a huge amount of improvement to be made in all aspects of the supply chain. Whatever happens on results day (15th September) I am ever more equipped to continue making informed wine decisions in my career and personal life and will continue to educate, guide and mentor with confidence and conviction. I am incredibly proud of myself and congratulate every person who has been through this process. Now, it is time to forget, be free and drink beer. Cheers!
Shout out to Curious Vines, Queena Wong, Natasha Hughes MW, Martin Hudson MW, Mike Best MW, Phil Reedman MW, Rob MacCulloch MW, the team at Itasca Wines, my family, friends, husband Nick and fellow students who provided support or shared their time, expertise and wisdom over the past few months. Thank you all.